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Leadership By George RR Martin

The fantasy writer George RR Marine is without question one of the greatest fiction writers of this era, perhaps one of the greatest writers period. His magnum opus, A Song of Ice and Fire helped revive the fantasy genre with its clever storytelling, compelling characters, and refreshing take on the modern world.

Although the story takes place in the world of Westeros, a nation loosely based on Medieval Europe, George made the series with modern events in mind. Growing up during the turbulent Cold War, he saw the chaotic events unfolding right before his eyes, from the Vietnam War to the Watergate Scandal.

This imbued George with a deep understanding of power and how those who have it wield knowledge he carries into his works. Far from wise kings and chivalrous knights, the characters of A Song of Ice and Fire are written in shades of black and grey. The most compassionate and honorable characters either get corrupted by power or do not survive long because of the world we live in. Good men do not always make good leaders, and bad men do not make bad rulers.

In Geroge’s eyes, a good leader is not solely determined by his character, but by his abilities and will to achieve his goals.


He wants to take this thing and use it, yeah. So you know, that kind of stuff has always interested me. But I also want to respond—I’ve read a lot of history about feudal history and Roman history and so forth, about politics in those days. I follow contemporary politics. And you know, what strikes me is that these issues are horrid. And a lot of fantasy makes it seem simple: a good man will be a good king. Well, a good man is not always a good king. And a bad man is not always a bad king. You know, it’s much more complicated than that. It’s you know, I look at in my lifetime, I think probably the best man to serve as President in my lifetime was Jimmy Carter. As a human being, the best human being, but he was not a good President. He was not. General goodness did not automatically make flowers bloom.

And then you look at what I think are bad men, like Richard Nixon. Nixon was a bad President too in some ways, but in other ways, he was a very effective President doing things like opening China and things like that. [Spoilery discussion redacted, about two of his characters who encounter difficulties in ruling.] I wanted to show what decisions they made and the possible consequences of those decisions and how thing worked or how things failed to work. So that sort of stuff has always interested me.

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